A Puzzling Resurgence In Popularity For NBA 2K11

A Puzzling Resurgence In Popularity For NBA 2K11

At first blush it doesn’t seem to stand out: NBA 2K11 cracked the top 20 of most played titles on the Xbox 360 for the week of Jan. 16. But when you peel it back, that’s actually quite astonishing, to see an old version of a sports video game resurface more than 15 months after its release.

This is not unprecedented. EA Sports’ FIFA series routinely places its two most current editions in the Xbox Live top 20, especially around the time the new version is releasing. (FIFA 11 and FIFA 12 were top 20 from 12‘s Sept. 27 release to the end of the year.) FIFA‘s global popularity certainly explains its longevity here. Madden, EA Sports’ long-running powerhouse, also does a double-dip in its release window, though it drops off more quickly.

But a look back suggests that when the old version leaves the top 20, it usually doesn’t come back. Certainly not after a three-month layoff.

What’s going on? I put this to some folks inside 2K Sports, who were just as surprised (albeit pleasantly) as I was. It doesn’t track to the tip off of the new NBA season — that was Dec. 25. While 2K Sports announced it would extend online support for NBA 2K11, in light of problems with NBA 2K12‘s multiplayer features, that happened back in November, a month after release. And it’s especially irrelevant as this figure concerns the unique users playing the game who are connected to Xbox Live, which has nothing to do with playing online multiplayer or connecting to the 2K servers.

It could be that NBA 2K11, whose “Jordan Challenge” series celebrating the career highlights of the NBA’s greatest player, really is heirloom quality, as I called it in my review at the time. The Jordan Challenge is exclusive to NBA 2K11, not 2K12, and no doubt drives back catalogue sales of that game — an absolute rarity in modern console sports gaming. I’ve suggested that 2K Sports, if it can, should cut this out and offer it for DLC, playable in the current game. But these numbers would put off that kind of action, probably until sometime next year.

It seems a little too easy to explain it that way. A sale, maybe? NBA 2K11 has a lower price tag by definition. The cover is similar to the Jordan cover (one of three) of NBA 2K12, too. The numbering may be confusing to those who don’t normally buy the game, but wouldn’t we have seen that influence before?

Who knows. NBA 2K11 was an unbelievable phenomenon for a sports title of predominantly North American interest. It was an NPD Top 20 seller, across all platforms, for all 12 months post-release. Maybe its staying power is just now becoming known.


  • Funnily enough I added to that statistic by picking up my old copy of 2k11… taking a break from fifa 12.
    My reason for not buying 2k12 is due to the lockout situation dampening my interest for the latest edition, and also having skyrim/skyward sword occupying my time for the majority of the last couple of months.

  • People dont like 2k12 because its harder than 2k11. Harder to run plays harder to execute harder overall. That and the online was pretty bad (cant really comment on that I just play with mates at their houses and at home by myself). Quite a few of the guys believe that 2k12 is just a roster, graphics and music update. To them 2k11 is the greater game because of the benchmark it set and 2k12 failed to meet it, they will still play both.
    My problems with 2k12:
    one of my “my players” gabe york a 6’6 SG/SF having the save file corrupt 40 games in making him unplayable. I play every game with 12 minute quarters so that was painful.
    apparently happens abit with PS3 users copping a freeze in the middle of game 45 and they are unable to continue past it.
    actually thats about it.
    Changes that I have enjoyed:
    Overall there is a larger range of player specific animations i.e tyreke’s crossover and dirk’s fade away. love it.
    The difficulty levels actually make the game challenging and entertaining.
    Graphics improved.
    Legends mode, love the ability to unlock great teams and players from the past (slightly dissapointed that reggie miller missed out and the lack of depth compared to jordan challenge i.e actually having in game goals)
    The ability to negotiate your contract and the slightly improved trade system. Also the ability to control what you do with your pay check (going towards camps, team dinners and such)
    The slight changes in the endorsements system.

    Over 2k12 to me is a better game, in particular my player mode (sure its harder to get an A+ rating but alot more in depth and in my view entertaining), which to me involves you more than last years and makes it feel like your a NBA player not just controlling one.

    I can get where the resurgance (or staying power) of 2k11 is coming from. I would mostly put it down to the so far failure of 2k12’s online system, though I have not tried it since I first opened the game (not due to problems but because my current internet connection prevents me from being a competitor in 2k’s online games).

    TL;DR version
    Great games, 2k12 lacks/lacked online so probably the reason for 2k11’s staying power.

  • 11 is the better-balanced game. A tweak of the sliders and you’re all set.

    12 requires you to completely overhaul the sliders to make it playable (particularly 1-on-1 D). I still can’t stop players from dribbling past me in the post for open dunks, because the game doesn’t allow me to.

    11, while fast-paced, allowed epic defensive games (much like what is happening with the current shortened season). 12 is a fast break fest which barely resembles how the game is actually played.

    • Js what difficulty are you playing on? I was playing on superstar and on average I could force the other point guard (no matter who) to pick up the ball when attempting to beat my man around twice a game. Now that I moved up to HoF difficulty it becomes considerably harder and I rarely force them to pick up the ball but still preventing someone from getting to the hoop is generally 60-70% of the time thing. only upgraded my steal and block to 65 and 45 defensive awareness has not changed and my player is an atheletic guard.

      • Lol miss read the in the post part. If you are talking about with PF an such, personally I dont have a complaint there but I will say Elton Brand should not be throwing down on my head so consistently lol

        • Yeah, mainly PF’s (Josh Smith annihilates me without fail in the post).

          I also have a problem at times where some PG’s manage to break past and nail pull-up jumpers from the top of the key over and over (including streaky shooters like Nate Robinson and Brandon Jennings). Then at other times I can completely blanket Rose and Paul (Celtics fan using Rondo).

          Playing on Superstar. I’ve gotten considerably better in the last month, mainly with perimeter defence, but I can’t guard the paint at all.

          • My man Celtics fan aye 😀 me too. I player lock as ray ray every time we play team games as the C’s lol.

            A couple of guys I know go here http://nba-2k12.com/ and to operation sports to help them when stuck with problems like this. I normally play as the Celtics and Hawks, funnily no one I play against rolls with hawks so Ive never had to worry about Jsmooth. As for PGs I have seen that happen with marcus thornton and chalmers. its frustrating aye.

            My defense around the paint is average too unless playing with again josh smith or KG…not so much KG otherwise The only way I can guard the paint is with help defense and to be honest its not always the best plan lol. In HoF dont even get me started on how poor my defense is…makes the games very high scoring or turns them into a blow out 🙁

  • Probably just because the new NBA season is in full swing now, putting people in the mood for playing their NBA games. That would be 2K11 if you didn’t buy 2K12.

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